Year Three: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", (2004) Running Time: 2:22
10:18am: New year, new director. Alfonso Cuarón takes the reins for his one and only "Potter" shot. "Azkaban" is where the series got dark and brooding. Perhaps best of all, Cuarón takes a less slavish approach to re-telling the book page-for-page, word-for-word. It was the first time I felt like the film was free to tell its story and not just visualize a book.
10:19am: Aunt Marge brought her dog! Hi puppy!
10:22am: Another gross magical punishment as Aunt Marge badmouths James & Lily, then blows up like a balloon and floats away into the air. Seems fair. See you next year, Privet Drive!
10:26am: Hey it's the Knight Bus. Where were you when I was unable to find my way home in college, O magical Knight Bus?
10:28am: The whole Knight Bus sequence has a Tim Burton style of scary hilarity (scalarity?) about it. It's fast-paced and fun. Stands apart from the rest of the movie. I mean, a talking Rastafarian shrunken head is hanging from the rear view mirror.
10:33am: The textbook about monsters is actually a monster! Get it?!
10:36am: Sirius Black back-story from Arthur Weasley. How is it that everyone, including friends of the Potters, believe Sirius is a murderer? No one from back then knows the truth?
10:39am: Dementors board the Hogwarts express train and molest Harry for no reason. Good law-enforcement system you've got there, Wizarding World.
10:40am: Lupin! Another year, another defense against the Dark Arts teacher. Just like "Spinal Tap" but with better British accents.
10:41am: Yearly hairstyle check. Watson's is getting shorter and Grint's is getting longer.
10:43am: First "something wicked this way comes" reference (the promotional tagline for this movie), originally a line from "MacBeth." In the original play, the line is spoken by one of the witches. Which is the only real connection, since "MacBeth" is not about a falsely imprisoned murderer who turns out to be the hero's godfather.
10:50am: We meet Buckbeak and Harry goes for a magical flight, arms out. Thank goodness they didn't sneak in an "I'm King of the World!" reference here. He's another minor plot point that comes back big time later on.
10:58am: Lupin's class vs the shape-shifting Bogart. Finally a defense against the dark arts teacher that knows what he's doing, and has no personal issues whatsoever. I bet he lasts a while.
11:01am: AHHH Ron's fear is Aragog! No fair spiders in this movie!
11:05am: Lupin makes the first "You have your mother's eyes" allusion. Also here the first appearance of Michael Gambon as the new Dumbledore, replacing the late Richard Harris for the rest of the films.
11:10am: Snape at his finest giving an impromptu lesson on Werewolves. I wonder why? Hearing Rickman snarl "page three hundred and ninety four" over and over is a treat.
11:13am: Yearly all-too-brief Quidditch match. They get shorter every time.
11:20am: First appearance of the Marauder's Map, courtesy of George and Fred.
11:25am: Harry gets dark as he "learns" about Sirus' involvement in his parents' death, vowing to kill him in revenge.
11:29am: Harry casts his first Patronus. The U2 cover band blasting "New Years Day" outside does not help enhance the drama at all.
11:37am: First time in Professor Trelawney's class. Can't wait till Umbridge sacks her in movie five. Oh wait, this is the one where she does an actual prediction! I stand briefly corrected.
11:41am: The executioner arrives to carry out Buckbeak's sentence and is comically sharpening his giant ax in the courtyard. Because that's where you'd do that.
11:42am: Hermione pops Malfoy in the face, setting a generation of young men's hearts afire.
11:47am: Suddenly black dog Sirius and the Whomping Willow (again) are all over the children. Hogwarts is not a safe place.
11:49am: Yay it's scary, ragged Gary Oldman! Oldman is excellent in everything. No effects needed. He's amazing.
11:53am: The true villain revealed: Peter Pettigrew. AKA Wormtale. AKA Scabbers the Rat. Instead of exacting vengeance, Harry elects to imprison him in Azkaban. They shoulda just listened to the Marauder's Map.
11:57am: Oh no full moon! How did THAT slip Lupin's mind?
11:59am: So now there's a dog fighting a werewolf while some British kids watch. If only there were a bear and a shark, this could be a pay-per-view special!
12:02pm: Final showdown between Harry and the Dementors as he stands guard over Sirius. Also, how have I not made some kind of "Sirusly" joke to this point? That's just shameful.
12:05pm: Big cryptic speech from Dumbledore about time and how it can be used to save a life. Out comes Hermione's Time-Turner. I could use one of those right about now.
12:07pm: Harry declares, "This is not normal" which makes me laugh aloud. But honestly, is it more unusual than the .... anything else?
12:17pm: Loving the layered complexity of the forwards and backwards in time plot in this film. Maybe my favorite of the whole series.
12:18pm: Buckbeak kicks the Werewolf (Lupin) in the head, saving Harry and Hermione. Harry delivers the line of the movie with "Wow, Professor Lupin's having a tough night."
12:23pm: Sirius flies off to safety on Buckbeak. Unrelatedly, I begin to feel weary and seek another caffeinated beverage.
12:27pm: Movie three ends with Harry rocketing off into the sky on his new Firebolt broom. Although I do not approve of the use of the freeze-frame at the end, the Marauder's Map style credits more than make up for it. That's three down, four to go! On to year four!>>